the one breath

When you find yourself with the Beloved, embracing for one breath, in that moment you will find your true destiny.
~ Rumi

Now that I am a bit past the newness of yoga, and the poses are going into my muscle memory, I have room for a sensory and spiritual experience when my body is in asana.  It is there that I often feel an overwhelming wave of love for the human form, for my human form. We are so very soft and so very strong all at once. We are a miracle of muscle, tendon, blood and bone. I am truly humbled and in awe of how we are made.

With each pose I can feel myself aligning  more towards the Divine. Like an antenna I am tuning myself to receive its frequencies and I am welcomed in as far as I wish to go, as deeply as I yearn to go.

In the intense stretch of uttanasana, my breath guides me to yield and fold further in on every exhale. With each exhale I am giving my breath back to God.

My body in tree pose, I rest and grow my vriksha roots down. I can feel myself balancing on the palm of the Beloved’s hand, supported and cherished.

The more yoga that I do, the closer this connection to the beloved Divine becomes.

These days, I understand more than ever the poetry of Rumi, and Hafiz.

These days, I feel as if I am going to burst with emotion, my hands shake with the current of vital energy and my heart is so open it aches.

These days I am being breathed.

These days, I experience the One Breath.

This entry was posted on June 3, 2012. 2 Comments

the freedom of yoga

When I was about 8, I asked my father what he was reading. He  was very engrossed in a book and I really wanted his attention.

He replied, I’m reading about yogis. Yogi Bear? I asked, thrilled that there was a book about one of my favorite cartoons. No, he said. This is about some very special people who can walk through walls.

It was the 60’s;  The Beatles, Maharishis, Transcendental Meditation, hippies, scented candles and incense were all very popular and while my parents looked conservative to the outside world, I was becoming more aware of something the older I became; they were closeted hippies. Looking back on the wild all night parties they regularly had, I am now convinced   that underneath their 1950’s clothing, and I like Ike demeanor, my parents were free spirits not being openly free.

On Fridays, my parents gave my middle sister and I money and let us walk down to the corner headshop  for a candle or a stick of incense. My youngest sister was an infant and obviously too young to participate.

These excursions were a big deal to me as I wanted so badly to be a grown up flowerchild and roam the world listening to music and make a peace sign to anyone who would watch. My sister was petrified to walk into the store and I had to drag her by the arm. She was often being dragged by me into this and onto that. I wanted an accomplice for my adventures, and I always chose her.

I wanted to know more about these yogis, so my dad explained that certain people were able to concentrate very hard and do what is normally impossible to do. My heart raced and my mind was already listing all the things I was going to be able to do that were impossible just a moment ago. According to my dad, all I had to do was concentrate. Hard.

An question formed in my mind; where did the yogis wind up after walking through the wall? On the other side in the next room, or…? My dad did not have the answer.

I took my sister by the arm and we went into the living room where there was a large white wall with nothing on it. I had her stand facing the wall. I explained authoritatively that she was to concentrate very hard and when she felt ready, simply walk through the wall. I thought it was best to send her first, in case she just just disappeared. The logic was; I was older and could communicate what had happened. I couldn’t trust her to get help if I were to disappear.

Towards the end of the experiment, my sister had a huge lump on her forehead where she had repeatedly bumped into the wall, and was crying so loud that both my parents came running. I can only imagine what was going through their minds as they came upon this scene; ‘come on, one more time…be a yogi…try it on more time, concentrate harder!’ and then giving her a little push, sending her into the wall again and again.

Grounded from everything I liked to do for one week, I had lots of time to wonder why my experiment had failed.

Something besides concentration must be going on. Over the years I have thought about those yogis, and their success. The failure of my sister to walk through the wall has remained a mystery to me until just yesterday.

Yesterday, without any conscious thought at all, my legs went smoothly over my head in one fluid motion and touched the ground behind my head in a perfect plow. The contact with the floor surprised me so much I felt  a wave of excitement come over me.  Every other time I had tried this pose, I was only able to get my legs bent at the waist and all the pushing of my hands behind my hips could not move them forward past the wall of resistance. It always frustrated me as I was concentrating so hard to get them over my head.

But this time I forgot to concentrate and just did it. Extraordinary! No concentration = success. Hard concentration = no success. Those yogis of my childhood must have known this, too. They must have walked into walls hundreds of times with their brows furrowed in concentation, just like my poor sister, before they had any success walking through the wall.

I can imagine that long ago a lone yogi, perhaps younger than the rest, was beyond bored watching the older ones bump themselves into the wall over and over again. I can almost feel this rebel yogi taking a breath and walking straight into the wall with no preparation at all, maybe hoping to knock himself unconscious and be granted a rare afternoon off of yogi pursuits.

I can imagine his complete surprise, and utter delight as he found himself suddenly on the other side of the wall. Easily, effortlessly and with no thought as to how he arrived there.

I can imagine how eager he was to do it again and again, hoping to recapture the feeling of freedom and flow.

I am smiling because I know just how he felt.

This entry was posted on June 2, 2012. 1 Comment

yoga is breaking my heart

The heart opens and closes like an aperture. Like a lens, it intuitively senses how much light to let in and when to close completely.

Sometimes, I believe, we override the natural flow of the heart’s openings and closings and everything switches to manual. We may close up, shut down so that the light cannot reach us, nor can the love. We may do this out of fear, out of pain and out of not-knowing.

When we do this, I feel, the heart tries to break free of and break through the manual override, sometimes breaking it open. Just as the prime directive of all living things is to live, perhaps the heart’s prime directive is to open.

The human heart is often broken. This is not always a bad thing.  The other day a dear friend and I were talking about something that I wanted to do. She lovingly guided me to be careful, I could get hurt. Immediately I said to her; I have already been hurt! Many times. I felt my entire being resist her warning.

I want to live a life that does not avoid hurt, but rather seeks experience.

I want to complete as much karma, with as many people possible in this one lifetime. And I want to do this without fear and with love.

I want my heart to open so wide that I am blinded by the light of the Divine, seeing everything only through that light.

Yoga is now a  part of my life, each asana bringing me closer to that open place in my heart. Each wide legged stance stretching my hamstrings and stretching my inverted heart open.  Each strong warrior pose asks me what it is I am ready to fight for, and the answer is always; love and light. Every childs’ pose with my hands in prayer, my forehead on the ground connects  my heart to earth, opens my heart to earth.

I can feel yoga seeking out all the places in the rooms of my heart where I have manually closed the windows. Shut out the light and put locks on the doors. I can feel yoga gently, powerfully opening those windows, letting the light in. I can feel the locks being cut, the doors flinging wide open, the light rushing in.

I am not at all sure if I am coming back into physical form, or not after I leave this world and pass into the next. That is not for me to know, or wish upon while I am still human. My task is to be here, live here and love here. With my heart breaking open.

the perfection of my imperfections

When I started my yoga practice, I simultaneously started a ballet class. This was my grand gesture to get my body ‘in shape’. It actually already has a  shape, I just wanted it to be a different shape.

I have always wanted to dance the ballet, but am aware that I do not have a ‘ballet body’ (said using Thurston Howell III’s voice) and I just couldn’t see myself in a ballet class. Ok, truth be told, I couldn’t see  myself in leotards. Ok, truth be told even further, I could see myself in leotards and it was terrifying. There were other fears, too; what if my plié is passé, what if I fall? 

But when my friend Desire said ‘you should take ballet 101’ I listened because she is a ballerina with a ballet body, and maybe she knows something I don’t know. I convinced my friend Monica to join the class too, saying the same thing to her; you should take ballet 101. I figured I was channeling Desire because she said yes, just like I did.

My first dance class was when I was six years old. On day one, my mother sent me in with pink satin pointe shoes and a pink taffeta tutu over pink tights and leotard. I was mortified when the teacher sent me right back out and then  argued with my mother that I was not to be in pointe shoes and a tutu as the beginners’ class wears flats and no tutu. I could hear my mom’s stern reply to the teacher; she’s wearing the shoes and the tutu. Clearly, my mom had not studied the art of persuasion with my friend Desire, because I was not allowed in that class again.

In ballet, everything is to be done with precision, with alignment and with perfection which antagonizes my inner perfectionist to no end. I wince when gently corrected in ballet and immediately imagine that my chances with the Joffrey just went out the window.

Quite the opposite with yoga, according  to my teacher. He assures me that yoga is not about perfect alignment, not about perfection at all, rather it is about acceptance and union with the Divine. He must know Desire, because I believe him without question.

I fell on my head when attempting crow at home. And I lose my balance in class all the time, it just makes me laugh like a child. I never wince when my asanas are adjusted, my spirit soars with joy as I feel the power of the pose even more when my body is moved just so.

Yoga is showing me how to be in devotion to the part of me that is not perfect, and is not expected to be. Yoga shows me that my body is flexible as it bows down low, surrendering itself to the source of all things. Yoga shows me how strong my body is as it reaches high up to touch The Divine.

I told Monica to go to yoga with me, using the Desire voice. She said yes.

the secret alphabet of yoga

This morning, it seems, I was stuck on one letter in the alphabet; B. The blog, the blovel, my brain all clamored for attention. The one letter I really wanted to get to, Y, for yoga, was so, so far away. It shimmered on the horizon like a mirage and I was rushing to get things done to get to that letter Y.

Up at 6:30 to be at a 9:00 class 3 minutes from my house seems like enough time. But when you’re an aquarius with a capricorn rising everything must be perfectly executed, no task left behind.  It bogs me down and I battled with time, willing it with the super power of my mind to please go s l o w e r.

The good thing about cats, is that they start with a C, so I was able to get past the B for a bit as I fed them, watered them and cuddled them a whole bunch. But then it was back to the B’s until yoga class.

I ran in just as class had started. I really hate being late, so it brought me even further back from the Y, all the way to A for acceptance and then a reprieve at F, for forgiveness, and super boost to S, for self-forgiveness. This was like playing Yoga Yatzy, I thought to myself as I attempted to calm my breathing-back to the B for God’s sake, then S, for shavasana.

Getting closer.

Down dog, D, child’s pose, C and plank, P. warrior, W.

S for sweating.

C for crow. P for pigeon and you gotta be kidding me; back to the B’s for boat.

I realized that I was way, way too much in my B for brain space and the way to Y and yoga was through the letter H for heart.

My hands at my heart and my eyes closed just before I am reaching up, up ‘for the highest things’ my teacher suggests. A literal flood of relief came over  me as I felt everything, everything  just relax. The alphabet slipped away, my tension slipped away, the Om-ness of the flow took over and I finally, finally got to Y.


I invite you, fellow bloggers and dear readers, to follow my new blog novel called The Yogi and I.

I look forward to sharing with you the story of Nina;  lost in her indifference and her grief she discovers yoga and soon finds her way back to sex, love and herself.

{ Please note: this blovel is for mature audiences only and contains explicit writing  }

Sending  you all yogini blessings!

morgan freeman is my guru

I am always looking for quotes on things that interest me. As a writer, I love words, of course, but I have a special fondness for the way other people use words and what they are saying. As a writer, I am also a reader. While looking up ‘stillness’ the other day on the world wide web, I came across all of these fantastic quotes by Mr. Morgan Freeman. His words rang so true, and so direct that soon, I was wishing we could have lunch or tea together and discuss my yoga practice, or his.

I have a weird habit of creating fantasy relationships from the literary, scientific and cinematic realms. Sometimes I even have fantasy famous boyfriends. Johnny Depp and I broke up long ago, but I still dress up in date clothes for his movies. Just in case.

You never know when the next teacher will appear, and Mr. Freeman is now one of my gurus.  Here are some of the wonderful things he has said to me when I asked for his guidance. I am sure you will see why I have chosen to study with him.

  • It’s what I learn from the great actors that I work with. Stillness. That’s all and that’s the hardest thing.
  • Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen – that stillness becomes radiance.
  • I can say that life is good to me. Has been and is good. So I think my task is to be good to it. So how do you be good to life? You live it.
  • Still, it can be more effective to accomplish what you need to accomplish with the minimum effort. Watch Anthony Hopkins. He doesn’t appear to be doing anything. He is so still that you can’t see him working, but you are drawn into his character through his very stillness.
  • Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen – that stillness becomes radiance.

I could not agree with you more, Morgan, my new guru.

sweating pigeon, laughing crow

Finally I was able to go to class, after a week’s absence; my body was happily moving through the poses with strength and grace. Even when I messed up my left and right (the by-product of being a visual learner; auditory  instruction can confuse  me) my recovery was smooth.

I was surprised however at how much water was leaving through my skin. Perhaps you are wondering what exactly that means? That is my polite way of describing the horrifyingly extreme amount of sweat pouring out of me. Now, I love me some yoga, but sweat? Not so much. All of my life I have been told to hide this bodily function and now here it was leaking out everywhere. Did you know that your ears can sweat? Let  go, let go, let go. Breathe.

Child’s pose, sit up,  hands at my heart, rise up, reach up, fold down, child’s pose, down dog, right leg way up, swinging it forward and slide into pigeon…relax, breathe…plop. Sweat is now leaking from the top of my head onto the mat! I bring my focus to the pigeon and not my sweat. I don’t like pigeons  very much. I love all living things, but have no connection to this bird. I think they are dirty and dangerous, perhaps carrying diseases and parasites. I steer clear from pigeons.  But right now, I was a pigeon, lying with my feathered body resting on my leg-perch, my wings stretched out in front of me, my birds’ head down in prayer, surrender.  As I breathed into this bird energy, I could feel the fast beat of its tiny heart, and I could see how beautiful they were with their iridescent feathers sparkling in the sunlight. I could hear my pigeons’ cooing as she rises up with grace from her resting pose  to fly off, generously fanning my sweating body. It felt good and I thanked her.

I am studying the spiritual meanings behind the asanas, and using this imagery and ancient wisdom to guide my body, guide my practice. While researching on the web this morning just before class, I came upon kakasana, or crow.  Crow is one of my totem birds, hawk being another. Crow pose has some obvious power to it. I was very drawn to the crow pose, and imagined myself a crow and flying way above the earth and then compacting myself narrowly to dive down for some tiny morsel on the ground. I liked crow, but  realized it may take me some time before getting into it.

Still in pigeon, I was thinking how I longed to accomplish crow when to my surprise my teacher announced that we move into crow. He showed us how and as I found my balance I was able to manage small success with microseconds of lifting my feet up and off the ground…this made me laugh lightheartedly like a child and I tumbled over. Funny trickster crow!

On my way to my car, I delighted in the synchronicity of meeting crow on the very day that I had discovered her and just then a beautiful pigeon flew right out in front me, startling me and I gasped while she hovered in front of me, her soft wings gently breezing the air around us.

Sweat, laughter, surprises…it’s all yoga.

morning light

I have not been to the studio all week, as I mentioned in earlier posts, due to the rehab of my shower. I am so excited that tomorrow morning I will be on the mat in the studio. I had opportunities to go to class at night, after the workers had left, but for some reason, I am a morning yogini. This is surprising to me because, while I am an early riser by nature, I am not an early socializer. I usually schedule all public appearances after 12 noon, and 1 is when I am at my best.

The early morning hours, just after sunrise has always felt to me a time of sweetness; the world is waking up, the light is diffused, and if I’m lucky the coastal marine layer is heavy, everything enveloped in mist. In magical circles this is called the ‘tween time’, when the sun and moon are just passing each other, when the morning and the night are switching out. Powerful and poetic this is a good time for reflection, writing, reading and chanting. Also a wonderful time to simply sit, sip tea and breathe.

I have enjoyed my home bound time, these last mornings, but am very much looking forward to being on the mat, as the world moves from the night to the day.